On Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court voted seven to two to permit Measure 26, the Personhood Amendment, to be listed on the state ballot in November. The Court ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi, which filed the case, did not meet the legal burden required to block the measure from appearing on the ballot. The Court did not, however, rule on the constitutionality of the measure, which “would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word ‘person’ or ‘persons’, as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.”
ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director Nsombi Lambright, as well as representatives from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Center for Reproductive Rights, indicated their disappointment at the court decision. If the initiative passes, it would not only put a woman’s right to an abortion in danger, but also threaten oral and emergency contraception, IUDs, in vitro fertilization clinics, and stem cell research. Lambright stated, “A measure will be on the ballot that will allow the government to dictate what is a private matter that’s best decided by a woman, her family and within the context of her faith. Mississippi voters should reject this intrusive and dangerous measure.”
Mississippi is the only state that has a personhood initiative on its ballot this year. In October 2010, Hinds County Judge Malcolm Harrison ruled against the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in a case that sought to remove the personhood amendment from ballots in Mississippi. According to the Clarion Ledger, 106,325 signatures on the petition supporting the measure were verified by the Secretary of State’s office— well beyond the approximately 90,000 signatures required to place the measure on the ballot.
CNN 9/9/11; ACLU Website 9/8/11; Associated Press 9/8/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 10/28/11